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Natural Remedies to Ailments

Jennifer Hawkins
Graduate student at the University of Minnesota

“Take two of these and call me in the morning” is an adage we have all heard dozens of times. Meanwhile, drug and pharmaceutical advertisements promoting their new “wonder drugs” clutter the pages of our reading material. Listening to the quiet voice in the background of pharmaceutical advertisements on the television describing the side effects of a particular drug may lead one to feel as though one is better off living with the affliction than trying to survive the side-effects of the cure.

Today’s society is in a continuous search for the quick fix to problems. We eat fast food, and food prepared at home is often prepackaged and full of preservatives. Have you eaten a school lunch with your child lately or taken the time to read the lunch menu when you write the check for her or his lunch ticket? It seems that your child may get the same nutritional value from a stick of margarine. What happened to the days of home-grown vegetables from the garden and the smell of tomatoes simmering on the stove, waiting to be canned, and consumed over our long Minnesota winter? What happened to the onion poultice grandmother used to tame a bad cold? When did the rush begin? When did we begin to forget all that the earth has to offer us naturally?

We are now beginning to understand the correlation between what we put into our bodies and what these foods and other substances do to us. Lack of proper nutrition and care for our bodies are often the root of our illness. Modern medicines can have harmful side effects. In our hurry and haste we are doing unalterable damage to our bodies and our land. As we come to this realization we begin to yearn for simpler times and alternatives to our current way of living.

The search for healthier ways to eat led me down many paths. One path led me to a gentleman in a small town in central Minnesota and another to an alternative health store in Minneapolis.

The gentleman I spoke with had at one time lived next to the White Earth Indian Reservation near Mahnomen. His neighbors on that reservation supplied him with a wealth of information about herbs and plants that can be found right here in Minnesota. He shared his “lifetime’s worth” of experience in natural remedies with me.

The health store in Minneapolis is called Present Moment Herbs & Books. It’s an amazing resource for those seeking natural healing alternatives. As the Midwest’s largest supplier of natural remedies, Eastern and Western herbs, oils and flower essences, they also have thousands of books on this subject. They offer classes in Eastern Medicine, Herbal Healing and several other treatment therapies. The Minnesota Naturopathic Medicine Clinic, with Dr. Andrew Lucking, N.D. (naturopathic doctor), can be found on-site.

Some natural plant remedies that I came across during my research can be found below.

Diabetes: Jerusalem Artichoke is often referred to as “nature’s insulin.” It can be used as a replacement or substitute for insulin tablets or shots. It is ingested raw (in salads).

Poison Ivy: Jewelweed (stem). Broken in two, it contains a clear substance that when spread on poison ivy clears up the rash in less than two days.

Ulcers: Red Elm can be used to relieve ulcers. Chew on the inner white bark of the tree.

Asthma: Flax seed can be made into a tea, which helps to relieve asthma. Flax seed oil may also be used as an emollient for boils, inflammations and tumors.

Warts: Castor oil, applied directly to the wart or mixed with baking soda and applied to the wart, will usually rid the sufferer of this viral skin infection.

Cholesterol: Lecithin, or soybean oil, helps keep cholesterol levels low.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Balsam Fir Root can be used as a treatment for arthritis. Steam the root and place knees or hands over steam, covering the area with a blanket or wrap to ensure effective coverage.

Sore Ear: Steep and strain the root of one Harebell with one-half cup of water. After the water has cooled to a lukewarm temperature, place a few drops in the ear.

Sore Throat: Prickly Ash Root (gargled) has been known to alleviate the pain of sore throats.

Toothache: Moisten powdered Lady’s Slipper and place it on your sore tooth to help alleviate pain.

Indigestion: One inch of Wild Ginger Root boiled in food for the person afflicted with indigestion.

Cramps: Chokecherries can be taken orally to relieve cramping. Goldenrod Root is also said to have properties that can relieve cramps. One root and one quart of water are heated and applied hot externally to the affected area.

Burns: Moisten dried or powdered leaves of the Giant Hyssop with water and apply to burns.

Strained Muscle: The entire top of a Wormwood plant can be boiled and used as a warm compress.

Corns and Calluses: Bittersweet and Chamomile combined into an ointment help aid in the healing of corns and calluses.

Colds: Cowslip root can be used to alleviate cold symptoms. Chop two roots of Cowslip, boil in a scant teacup of water, remove from heat, strain and cool. Drink the entire amount at once.

Coughs: Drinking a handful of Burdock leaves boiled in a cup of water can help relieve coughing.

Heart Palpitations: Prepare four pieces of dried Dogbaneroot, about two inches long, boil for two minutes in one quart of water, cool and drink.

Cancer: Blue violet with Rock Rose and Red Clover blossoms is said to aid in the healing process of cancer.

High Blood Pressure: Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Hyssop and Wild Cherry bark are known to help control high blood pressure.

As you can see there are natural remedies for a variety of common ailments. Many of these remedies can be found in your back yard, the city park or in a quiet Twin Cities store. Besides these (and many more) herbal remedies, there are several other natural healing alternatives to cure what ails you; aromatherapy, acupuncture, acupressure and homeopathy, to name a few. If you are looking for a quick fix, this may not be the answer. Using nature’s remedies takes more time and energy, but it’s well worth the effort.

Everyone’s body is different. As in modern medical treatments, what may work for one person will not necessarily work for another. Always consult with your physician or an experienced practitioner before using any form of medicine.

Read Up

Natural Health, Natural Medicine, Andrew Weil

How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine and Crafts, Frances Densmore

Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss and Promise Moffitt

Act Locally
The Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota
612-624-9459

Present Moment Herbs and Books
3546 Grand Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 612-824-3157

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